Abbott Signs Bill Making It A Crime To Illegally Enter Texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is pictured during a panel discussion at the Yale Club in Manhattan on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.
Credit: Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill on Monday that makes it a crime to illegally enter the state, giving state officials more power to take steps to secure the border amid the ongoing illegal immigration crisis. 

The law comes as millions of illegal immigrants have been released into the U.S. under President Joe Biden, with many making their way through the Texas-Mexico border. Abbott has bussed tens of thousands of illegal immigrants across the country in response and has fought with the Biden administration over putting up barriers to deter illegal crossings. 

“Four years ago, the United States had the fewest illegal border crossings in decades,” Abbott said at a signing ceremony for three border security related bills. “It was because of four policies put in place by the Trump Administration that led to such a low number of illegal crossings. President Biden has eliminated all of those policies and done nothing to halt illegal immigration. President Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.”

The law, which will authorize local police to handle immigration enforcement by making it a state misdemeanor to cross the Texas-Mexico border illegally, was first sent to Abbott by Texas Republicans in November. The law will allow Texas to deport those who cross into the state back to Mexico, which would be a direct challenge to the catch-and-release policy currently practiced by the Biden administration. 

According to the governor’s office, the law will create “a criminal offense for illegal entry into this state from a foreign nation. The law cracks down on repeated attempts to enter Texas by creating the offense of illegal reentry and penalizes offenders with up to 20 years in prison. It also provides the mechanism to order an offender to return to the foreign nation from which the person entered or attempted to enter this state. The law provides civil immunity and indemnification for local and state government officials, employees, and contractors for lawsuits resulting from the enforcement of these provisions.”


Democrats have opposed the measure, claiming that it is unconstitutional for a state to enforce immigration law while Republicans have said that the federal government has neglected to secure the border. 

The other two bills signed by Abbott included a measure to appropriate over $1 billion in funding for border security, including barriers, and increased penalties for human trafficking.

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